Photoshop Top 40, Feature #27: The Crop Tool

Feature #27: The Crop Tool

Okay, so the crop tool isn't necessarily Photoshop's most exciting feature. But what in the hell would we do without it? This one tool lets you clip away the edges of a photograph so you can hone in on just those details that you want to keep. You can straighten an image that you inadvertently shot cock-eyed. And best of all, you can temporarily hide portions of an image (as opposed to forever clip them) so that you can restore the cropped areas and recompose the image five ways to Sunday.

Which is a lot of "featuricity" for one tool. As usual, I show you more than how the crop tool works. (Cropping couldn't be much more obvious.) Rather, I show you how to exploit the crop tool six ways to Tuesday. Which is the promise of Photoshop Top 40, after all. Read more » 

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Photoshop Top 40, Feature #28: Hue/Saturation

Feature #28: Hue/Saturation

Were I inclined to be purely objective, I would tell you that the ages-old Hue/Saturation command is growing somewhat long in the tooth. For example, if your primary purpose is to increase the saturation of an image, you're better off exploiting the Vibrance command or the Lab mode.

Even so, Hue/Saturation continues to do something that no other feature does: It lets you edit one range of colors independently of all others--without defining a selection or mask--all from inside a single dialog box or palette. And it does this so very easily and so very credibly, that you can get in and out of an image without anyone being the wiser. Read more » 

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Photoshop Top 40, Feature #29: Liquify

Feature #29: Liquify

The Liquify filter is one of Photoshop's great destructive retouching tools. (Of which we'll see more before this countdown is out.) Meaning that it permanently modifies pixels--no fancy parametric adjustments for this one!--in the name of making the subject of your photograph look her or his best.

Notice that I positioned the feminine pronoun first; that was not by accident. These days, Liquify is used to tweak virtually every professional glamor shot on the planet. It is, in fact, the Auto-Tune of professional portrait photography. So much so that, during a presentation by a notorious photographer and retoucher, an equally notorious female colleague of mine leaned over and whispered, "If he takes one more anorexic model and turns her into a stick figure, I'm going to go up there and kick him in the f*cking nuts." Read more » 

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Photoshop Top 40, Feature #30: Actions

Feature #30: Actions

Actions are Photoshop’s oldest and most essential form of automation. Simply put, an action is a recorded sequence of events. Which is pretty wild when you think about it. You click the record button, work your way through a series of oft-repeated steps, and then click stop. From that point on, the Actions palette can play back exactly what you did at breakneck speed, several times faster than you could ever hope to repeat the steps yourself. Test the action to make sure it works and it may serve you well for years to come, from one version of Photoshop to the next. As I’m fond of saying, invest an hour or two in actions now and your future self--lying on a beach while Photoshop works away as your obedient digital slave--will thank you. Read more » 

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Photoshop Top 40, Feature #31: The Brush Tool

Feature #31: The Brush Tool

If you know anything about Photoshop's brush tool, you know it paints smooth lines in the foreground color. You can control its behavior to the nth degree from the options bar and Brushes palette. And it responds to pressure-sensitive input.

Those attributes alone would earn it a place in the coveted Photoshop Top 40. The fact that it also excels as a masking tool merely cements the deal. Read more » 

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